Yeah, I know I kind of left things hanging since my last blog post several weeks ago. I did end up having a nuclear stress test which showed somewhat abnormal results so underwent a cardiac catheterization the other week. Despite all my worries about the procedure being painful, I actually slept through the entire thing and was awakened by the staff letting me know everything went well and my coronary arteries looked very good. Apparently there was no sign of any coronary artery disease, not even any plaque according to the cardiologist! So my heart appears to be healthy; great news in that it means I can continue on with my weight loss and exercise plans. The only negatives include some temporary wrist soreness where the wire was inserted (which has since resolved) and the massive pile of co-payment bills now having to be addressed. But it is good to know my heart is apparently in great shape. We still don’t know the cause of the EKG abnormalities, but I guess they aren’t harmful; erosive esophagitis and reflux disease are the current primary suspects for my symptomatology. So we’re working on addressing that at present, and it seems to be improving.
Now comes the really hard part – getting back into a regular exercise routine. When you’re overweight, getting older and trying to regain lost fitness, well, let’s just say it’s tough. And discouraging - less than 10 years ago I was easily riding my bike for as much as 22 hours straight during endurance events on challenging trails, and now managing one hour on a beginner loop is exhausting and harder than I remember. I’m doing what I can, but it’s a balancing act between exercising hard enough to make gains in fitness and keeping things at a level where it isn’t so awful that I can’t force myself to get back out there the next time. I get frustrated when I can’t do the things I used to do with ease, and at times it feels like I’m carrying a toddler on my back due to the extra body weight, especially on climbs, but I’m taking baby steps to try and improve. Right now my focus is on more saddle time to get comfortable on the bike again, and I’ll worry about adding increasing speed and tackling the scarier more technical trail sections bit by bit so as not to get too overwhelmed with everything at once.
The weirdest part about it, though, is that my fear of obstacles seems to be the biggest roadblock to my progress; I still seem to have a fair amount of strength for biking, and can even go a little bit fast (for me) on short stretches, especially considering my current lack of fitness. But riding a sketchy descent or crossing a log or rock garden just freezes me psychologically, and if we’re heading to a difficult trail, I find that I am sick to the point of nausea, trembling and cold sweats before I even take to the saddle. Not sure what’s going on with that, especially since I know I can always walk the sketchy sections, but it’s something I’d really like to understand and correct because I desperately want to find the joy in biking again. I feel like I already lost the first 33 years of myself as an equestrian when my horse died 20 years ago and I couldn’t bring myself to face that grief. And I don’t want to lose these last 20 years of my identity as a mountain biker as well due to fear of re-learning how to ride. I suppose I need to just keep pressing onward and hopefully things will work themselves out.